Tag Archives: Killings

March for justice in Mexico

Journalists is the Mexican state of Veracruz marched over the weekend to demand protection for journalists and for the government find and prosecute those responsible for killing investigative journalist Regina Martinez.

Government officials say they have the killer of Martinez, who was found beaten and suffocated in her house. But her co-workers don’t believe them.

The man convicted of the murder is Jorge Antonio Hernandez Silva. According to the government versions, Martinez was killed because she interrupted a robbery by  Hernandez Silva.

Unfortunately for the government, Hernandez Silva says he was forced to confess after being tortured for several days. The editors at Martinez’s publication, Proceso, don’t accept the government story, pointing out that none of the fingerprints in the Martinez apartment match Hernandez Silva.

The local authorities did not do themselves any favors when, according to Proceso, some current and former state officials issued orders to capture a reporter who questioned the verdict and “to do him harm if he resists.”

After the national government stepped in and expressed its skepticism of the local version of events, Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte  met with editors of Proceso and promised a full investigation.

See original story: Mexican journalists march against attacks on press

Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries for journalists. The threat comes from drug cartels and corrupted government officials. Since 1992, 28 journalists and media workers have been killed in Mexico. Of those 28 cases, 22 have not been solved.

The national government has stepped up its efforts to protect journalists and to deal with the lack of action by local governments.

Late last week the national legislature passed a bill giving the federal government jurisdiction over crimes against journalists. It only awaits the president’s signature.

Read more about the bill and the problem of impunity in Mexico: In Mexico, a movement and a bill against impunity


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Filed under Corruption, Harassment, Killings, Mexico

Brazilian becomes 1st journalist in the Americas to be killed in 2013

Brazilian radio station manager Renato Machado Gonçalves became the first journalist in the Western Hemisphere to be killed this year when he was gunned down in front of his home Jan. 9.

The motive for the killing is not known but local authorities said his profession as a journalist has to be considered.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Concalves did not receive any threats before the attack.

Witnesses said two individuals on a motorcycle intercepted him outside and opened fire. Hit four times, twice in the chest, he died of his injuries after being taken to Ferreira Machado Hospital in Campos. A São João da Barra police station has been given the job of investigating his murder.

One of his colleagues told Reporters Without Borders that Gonçalves was physically attacked at a meeting of the São João da Barra municipal chamber during last October’s local elections. There were several cases of violence against journalists during the campaign, as well as attacks on news media and many cases of court-ordered censorship.

Brazil was pegged as the 5th most dangerous country for journalists in 2012.

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Filed under Killings, South America

Journalists and war zones, a new danger

David Carr has a good piece in the New York Times on how attacks against journalists in conflict zones are being written off as attacks on terrorists and terrorist supporters.

Using War as Cover to Target Journalists

He cites the case of two Al-Aqsa TV journalists:

Mahmoud al-Kumi and Hussam Salama worked as cameramen for Al-Aqsa TV, which is run by Hamas and whose reporting frequently reflects that affiliation. They were covering events in central Gaza when a missile struck their car, which, according to Al-Aqsa, was clearly marked with the letters “TV.” (The car just in front of them was carrying a translator and driver for The New York Times, so the execution hit close to our organization.) And Mohamed Abu Aisha, director of the private Al-Quds Educational Radio, was also in a car when it was hit by a missile.

I would think there would be better examples of the use of war to attack journalists. Journalists from Al-Aqsa have as much editorial freedom as those from Xinhua or the North Korean media.


Should journalists — independent or not — have been targeted? Nope.

Should Israel have targeted the journalists in their vehicle? Nope.

Is Al-Aqsa TV independent from an organization centrally involved in a war? Also, nope. Under a general theory of war-making, targeting propaganda arms of an enemy makes sense. But that means headquarters and propaganda masters, not necessarily the grunts.

And, as Carr points out, a lot of the growing danger comes as the bean counters reduce the resources necessary for independent journalists to do their jobs:

At a time when news outlets in the United States are cutting foreign operations for monetary reasons, cheap and ubiquitous technology has lowered the entry barrier for others who want to engage in journalism, some of whom are already in the theater of conflict and may have partisan motives. Many of those newer players are young and inexperienced in ways that make them particularly vulnerable in the middle of dangerous conflicts.

Other journalists have close affiliations with partisan forces in these conflicts.

As news media organizations become increasingly politicized, all journalists risk ending up as collateral casualties because they are working adjacent to outlets viewed as purveyors of propaganda.


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Filed under Killings, Middle East

For some a game; For too many reality

International End the Impunity Day is November 23.

The International Freedom of Expression Exchange site has a digital game designed to draw attention to impunity and motivate more people to engage in the issue called Break The Silence.

IFEX launches online game for Day to End Impunity campaign

In one scenario in this game, you are a Twitter user in the Americas. Drug cartels and organised crime have infiltrated the political, judicial and law enforcement systems in your country.

In another, you are a musician in Africa. Your government is handing down orders to silence artistic expression. Those who challenge the status quo are being censored, and those who persevere are being threatened and intimidated.

In a third, you are a protester in the Middle East, in a country with an established authoritarian regime in power. Voices of dissent are violently suppressed by the police and military.

In each scenario, you must navigate through a labyrinth where others are doing everything they can to silence your voice.

In the TWITTER scenario, the opening screen is:

Drug cartels and organised crime have infiltrated the political, judicial and law enforcement systems in your country.

Those who speak out about the corruption are often faced with threats, attacks and even murder. These crimes are rarely punished.

What will you risk to be heard?

Followed by

You witness an exchange of cash between a known drug lord and the chief of police. You decide to tweet about it on your Twitter account.

So far, this all sounds familiar to anyone living in Honduras or Mexico.

From this point you make choices about whether to keep pushing ahead or back off. Depending on how you decide the danger to you and your family increases or decreases.

The game accurately describes what can (and does ) happen to people who stand up to narcos and dictators.

Before people start complaining about all the money “wasted” on programs overseas to break up the narcos and support democratic forces, they should play this game and see what it really costs to not stand up to these thugs.


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Filed under Censorship, Corruption, Press Freedom

Journalist killer in Honduras sentenced

The killer of journalist and journalism professor Jorge Alberto Orellana was sentenced to 17 years in prison for the killing. The killer also received an additional 10 years for the robbery associated with the murder.

Orellana was killed in April 2010 during the course of a robbery.

This case is important to note because the killing had nothing to do with Orellana’s profession. He was killed as part of a robbery.

Reports around the world point out that since 2009 more than 30 media workers have been killed in Honduras, making the place one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world. Yet, rarely in those reports is the context that the country is the most dangerous place for ANYONE with 86.2 murders per 100,000 people.

The Committee to Protect Journalists notes that only five of the killings since 1992 are connected to the journalists doing their jobs.

Too often the raw number of murdered journalists is used without the context of the circumstances about their killings.

The Honduran government says it is moving on the murder cases. The sentencing of Orellana’s murderer is a start.

And remember, that many more lawyers — especially human rights lawyers — have been killed than journalists. And in the cases of many of the lawyers, a better case can be made that their murders are tied to their work than the murders of the journalists.

What is needed in Honduras is more support from the people for a more aggressive use of the law to investigate, prosecute and jail the murderers of journalists, lawyers, students, street vendors and every day people.

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Filed under Central America, Honduras, Killings

Despite the publicity, Honduras is NOT the most deadly place for journalists

Research from the International News Safety Institute listed the top five deadliest places to be a journalist. The number one slot may surprise people not paying attention to such things because it is Brazil.

Given the murder rate in Honduras and all the publicity of murdered journalists there, surely that Central American country must be a close second, right?

Wrong. In fact, Honduras is not in the top five.

According to the INSI, after Brazil comes Nigeria, Somalia, Indonesia and Mexico.

Brazil among most dangerous countries for journalists during first half of 2012, research shows

As noted from the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas:

In Brazil, seven journalists were killed from January through the beginning of July: Laércio de Souza, Mario Randolfo Marques Lopes, Paulo Roberto Cardoso Rodrigues, Onei de Moura, Divino Aparecido Carvalho, Décio Sá, and Valério Luiz de Oliveira. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the country has an impunity rate of 75 percent.

Mexico is the most hostile country for freedom of expression in the American continent, with eight killed journalists during the first half of the year, and a series of armed attacks against news outlet buildings.

According to INSI director Rodney Pinder, fire arms and bombs continue to be the preferred method for censorship in many countries. “Journalists are more than ever in sight of the enemies of freedom of expression. Every and any killing suffocates the flow of information, which no free society can function without,” he said in a press release.

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International meeting on journalism security in Honduras

The situation in Honduras is bad for journalists — 31 killed since 2003. In some of the cases the murders are directly related to media work — five, according to the Committee to Project Journalists. The rest of the cases are unknown because the Honduran legal system is so weak that basic investigations are difficult if not down right impossible.

The killings of the journalists also has to be put in the context of the fact that Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world — 86 per 100,000 people. In some cases, the killing of a reporter could be something as simple as “wrong place; wrong time.” Or the reporter could have been singled out for reasons other than that reporter’s work.

Whatever the reasons, the fact that journalists are being killed is of concern in the larger community. We expect journalists to be upset when a large number of our own are killed — for whatever reason. But we are also seeing the rest of the civic society groups express concern.

Non journalists are worried because the killings and threats against media workers could lead to less independent reporting or no reporting about crime and corruption at all. The NGOs, the government leaders and the journalists all make the same point: Without free and independent media, democracy is threatened.

This past week the issue of journalism safety was the focus of series of meeting organized by  Inter American Press Association and Media Association Communication.

The sessions — “Security, protection and solidarity for the freedom of expression” — led to commitments from the Honduran government to protect journalists and to fully prosecute killers of journalists.

Among the commitments from the government:

  • The creation of a special prosecutor for crimes against journalists because of their professional work.
  • The deputy national prosecutor said he supported reforming the Criminal Code to increased the penalty for killing a journalist from 20 to 30 years.

The IAPA session also called for the creation of a special court to hear charges brought by human rights violations and implementation of concrete actions to protect, investigate and prosecute any crime against freedom of expression.

The conference final document also called on media companies and individual journalists to take steps to enhance journalists’ security:

  • Exercise  safe and responsible journalism.
  • Strengthen measures of self-protection, including workshops and ethics.
  • Encourage journalists to assume individual responsibility for their training in journalistic ethics and understanding their exposure to dangerous assignments.
  • Urge journalists to report any threats they receive to human rights organizations and the authorities.

The conference was held in Tegucigalpa August 9 and 10. Besides journalists and representatives of  media organizations; academics, civil society members, government prosecutors, businessmen and members of the Army attended.


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Filed under Central America, Harassment, Honduras, Killings, Press Freedom